For the last five years, Delhi has been witnessing a public health emergency in the form of air pollution. This year as well Delhi and its adjoining areas witnessed a severe dip in the air quality causing smog across the region.
The cause of the pollution spike is believed to be the bursting of crackers on Diwali and stubble burning in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana.
Amidst deteriorating weather condition in the national capital, Delhi Government on Wednesday issued circular advising schools to ensure that no outdoor activities are organised.
"All the heads of government, government-aided and unaided recognised schools under Directorate of Education are directed to sensitise the parents of the students about the worrisome air quality situation prevailing in and across Delhi and further appeal them to restrain their children from undertaking outdoor activities till severe pollution condition persists," read a circular from the Directorate of Education.
Mothers-to-be who are exposed to particulate air pollution during pregnancy are likely to deliver infants who show reduced cardiac response to stress, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Variability in how the heart rate responds to stressful experiences is essential for maintaining optimal functioning of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems and also is central to emotional well-being and resilience to stress over one's lifetime.
The percentage of patients complaining of respiratory ailments has increased by about 30 per cent in hospital OPDs after the festive season, as per doctors across the city.
Dr Vikas Maurya, Head of Respiratory department at Fortis hospital said, "Post Diwali, the situation has worsened. Nearly 30 per cent of patients have increased in the OPD complaining of chest disorder, sneezing, viral infection and cough. It is going to get worse in the coming days."
(Prof) Dr Anant Mohan, Head of pulmonology department at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) further stated that the trend may well shoot up in the next few days.
While the air quality in the national capital dipped to 'Severe' category, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had asserted that the post-Diwali pollution level in the city was the lowest in the last five years.
"As per records, pollution was the lowest in the last five years. It is a good thing that pollution has decreased. However, our aim is to put an end to Diwali pollution," Kejriwal said in a press conference here.
The Delhi government on Tuesday said that the latest images from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) show a drastic increase in the stubble burning in the last 24 hours in Haryana and Punjab.
Stubble burning counts have increased from 1,654 to 2,577 in Punjab/Haryana in the last 24 hours, the statement said.